A version of this story appeared on Oct. 23, 2016, in Life&Times.
At Halloween, the magic is in the makeup.
During the one time of year you can be whatever and whoever you want, the right makeup can amp up your look. From spooky to spectacular, five local makeup artists shared their tips and tricks for the best Halloween makeup looks.
Do your homework
Makeup artist Maria Bonacuse-Martin suggested researching everything beforehand, from character traits to costumes choices. Knowing the character inside and out helps when picking what kind of makeup you will use, as well as colors, textures and details.
For gory looks, Bonacuse-Martin advised researching muscle tone and bone structure for an idea of where to start. Look no further than the medicine cabinet or craft drawer for conventional items that can add authenticity to macabre looks.
“Use cotton to add bulk, red yarn to give the effect of veins, clay from the craft store to create bones and natural-tone eye shadow to create depth,” Bonacuse-Martin said. “Keep it as true to life (as possible).”
Look online for inspiration
If you’re looking for ideas, look no further than social media. Use hashtags on Instagram or keywords on YouTube to search for makeup looks from all over the globe.
“Make it your own,” said Anna Cordaro, makeup artist and hairstylist at Coyote Beauty, based out of the Sacramento, California, area. “Be inspired by other artists, but always put your own twist on it.”
Skeleton faces remain a staple for Halloween makeup because of the design’s versatility. From eerie details and realistic shadows to skull looks, the style leaves lots of room for interpretation and personal touches.
“They’re my favorite because you can make them glamorous or spooky,” Cordaro said. “It’s fun to let your imagination run wild.”
Know when to save, splurge
Special-effects makeup can be pricey, but it might make a big difference. Depending on how realistic you want your effects, high-quality paints, liquid latex or theater-grade products could be worth the money, according to the pros.
No one needs to break the bank for realism, however. If the product most likely will end up in the bottom of a makeup drawer, don’t waste the money.
“Be resourceful,” said RD Hair Salon and Blow Dry Bar makeup artist Sierra Tyahur. “You don’t need to go out and buy a whole new makeup supply just for Halloween. It’s a good time to go through your makeup and use up all those products you would most likely just throw away.”
Liquid lipsticks have gained popularity recently, and makeup artist Keiera Kisel, owner of Scranton-based business Keiera-Lanay, Makeup Artist, said they come in handy for bloody horror looks.
“Try a dark, blue-based red and mix it with Vaseline, coconut oil or a clear primer,” she said. “Works like a dream.”
For a fully painted look, Bonacuse-Martin said liquid lipsticks in funkier colors — cropping up in beauty shops and drugstores alike — make for long-lasting, waterproof pigments to use on skin.
Make it last
A good base and a good finish make all the difference. For the best results, use makeup primer to fill in pores, lines and creases and help makeup or paint go on smoother.
To ensure your look stays put, Kisel suggested, set anything liquid- or cream-based with a translucent powder or, for more vibrancy, eyeshadow.
“Powder is your friend,” Kisel said. “It’ll help keep your work from separating or melting off.”
Practice makes perfect
A trial run beforehand to work out any kinks was a unanimous tip from all the experts. The more time spent in advance to get the look just right saves time on Halloween night, or whenever you debut your costume.
“Don’t be discouraged if you make mistakes,” Cordaro said. “Practice makes it easier. Don’t worry about making your makeup perfect.”
Halloween or special-effects makeup doesn’t need to be overly complicated either. Emily Hamm, known on social media for her sinister, realistic makeup looks @bluekookutchoo on Instagram, said sometimes the creepiest looks are small touches.
Try a fresh face with an intricate-looking open wound or manipulating light and shadows for a ghostly, underworld look.
“Bigger isn’t always better,” Hamm said. “It’s the little details that make the final product work well.”
How do I get this off?
After a long night of tricks and treats, it’s important to safely and correctly remove the makeup just as carefully as you applied it.
Kisel advised taking off spirit gum, or any temporary glue applied to the skin, with a specific remover for those kinds of products. They can be found online or at Halloween or party supply stores.
For regular makeup, Kisel swore oil-based products such as Pond’s cold cream, Lancôme Bi-Facil eye makeup remover, and baby or Argan oil dissolve cosmetics when it’s way past the witching hour.
“Those will melt and remove any pesky areas for an easier and quicker removal process,” she said.
Meet the artists
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT